Nearly 30,000 people gathered at the Oakland Coliseum Complex Friday to pay homage to four police officers who were shot and killed by a 26-year-old ex-felon in the city March 21.
About 18,000 people filled the indoor Oracle Arena, where the service for the officers took place, and about another 10,000 watched it on a
giant screen on the outdoor Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum next door.
Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, of Tracy; Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville; Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, of Castro Valley; and Officer John Hege, 41, of Concord, were honored during the memorial.
During the ceremony, acting Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan praised the officers as "brave,
heroic and peaceful men who did their jobs."
California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who formally served as Oakland's mayor, said "you can't find four more honorable people" than the four officers, and said they were "ready to die for what is right."
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the officers "were among the best to ever wear the badge of the Oakland Police Department" and said "they died in the cause of their efforts to remove a dangerous criminal from the streets."
Police say the officers were killed by Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, an ex-felon who was wanted on a no-bail warrant for allegedly violating his parole by failing to meet with his parole officer. Mixon was killed at the end of his confrontation with police.
Before the funeral, members of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department and local police saluted along Interstate 580 overcrossings Friday morning as the casket containing the body of Sgt. Dunakin and vehicles carrying his family passed through Pleasanton and Livermore on the way from his home town of Tracy to Oakland. Firefighters hung a giant American flag and saluted as law enforcement agencies from cities such as Tracy, Manteca, Hanford and Merced headed west on 580 to Oracle Arena.
Friday afternoon, firefighters again saluted the procession, providing a "final" tribute from I-580 overpasses as the family headed home for a burial service.
At the arena, the coffins of the four fallen officers, draped in American flags, were brought in the arena's north entrance one-by-one.
Each hearse received a motorcycle escort by police while their colleagues stood at attention and saluted the fallen men.
Father Jayson Landeza of St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland, the master of ceremonies, read aloud a letter from President Obama in which he said of the officers, "Their commitment to their fellow man will never be forgotten."
Obama said, "I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of these officers. Michelle and I hold their families in our hearts and prayers."
Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said law enforcement officers from throughout the world were in the city to pay tribute to the fallen officers.
Gary Delagnes, president of the San Francisco Police Officer's Association, said the turnout was "unbelievable."
Delagnes said an estimated 15,000 police officers were here from around the country, and that the 8,000 seats set aside in the arena for police had filled up long before the ceremony began.
These included a contingent of eight Pleasanton motorcycle officers from the department's traffic division with more Pleasanton officers also attending the service.
Delagnes said between 400 and 500 San Francisco police officers, or roughly a quarter of the department's workforce, were attending the funeral.
"We're happy to be a part of this and we all felt like we're one family," he said.
Outside agencies were policing Oakland Friday to free up local officers for the funeral. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office took the lead in that effort, assisted by the California Highway Patrol and police from Berkeley, San Leandro and the East Bay Regional Park District.